The Nation is the new God.

October 27, 2011

Throughout my lectures on Nationalism, I am becoming increasingly aware, that if you were to substitute the word “Nationalism” for “Religion”, the context and the surrounding wording, wouldn’t have to be modified, and we’d still end up with a perfectly rational statement.

Like Nationalism, religion relies on the rather solipsistic idea that we as a species are somehow special and important. Nationalism narrows the field down, to those who exist on a specific land mass, sometimes using religion to attempt to strengthen its otherwise weak premise; but religion, whilst casting its net further afield, nevertheless clings to the same arrogant notion that we are indeed special. To illustrate this point, I would ask you to try and locate the August 2010 edition of Scientific America, in which Kate Wong (an evolutionary specialist) shows that around 195,000 years ago, Homosapien became as close to extinction as we’ve ever came. Climate change, she argues, meant that our species had fallen to just 600 breeding couples. Somehow, beyond all comprehension, we survived, and we thrived. Around 50,000 years ago, we left Africa. We ventured into a vast unknown, and we conquered it. We suffered deaths by teeth, deaths by easily curable maladies, we suddenly hit a new phase in human and social evolution, when, on top of the simplistic tools we were devising alongside other species in the homo genus, we began making art, and tools that appear incredibly complex. Humanity, was suddenly starting to show signs of brilliance. But we were still under threat. Climate, Neanderthal, awful disease. They all played their part in bringing us to the edge of destruction many times over. These early humans didn’t care what land mass they were born on, or the colour of skin, or what happened to be your first language. And yet, Christianity seems to suppose that all of that hardship, that hundreds of thousands of years of exploration, disease, creativity and the brink of extinction, was all because the divine wanted to get us to the point where we could be Christians. It seems strikingly awful a presumption, that for 199,000 or so years of our history (it varies, whichever scientist you subscribe to) heaven looked on with indifference, as humanity struggled to survive… by the way, for those 198,000, the most testing in all our history, we managed to get through it without any divinely proscribed ‘objective moral basis’… and only in the last 2000 years, having ignored 198,000 years did it decide to get to know us, by giving a book to a bunch of illiterate warring desert tribesmen, on the same plot of land as huge oil reserves. Did Heaven not think ahead? It seems massively incompetent. The Chinese could read and write at this stage; why not given them the most important book known to man? Silly little myths in an attempt to attract a following.

Nationalism similarly uses easily discredited constructed and largely false myths to attempt to bind people. The rhetoric is very similar to religious rhetoric. It is exclusive, not inclusive. It is divisive, not binding. It can be threatening and forceful when it doesn’t get its own way.

Nationalism requires the individual submit to the will of the Nation. The Nation takes the place of God. The Nation becomes the reason to live. Prior to 1517, Europe cared little for national unity, and more for their submission to the God of Catholicism. Luther changed that, and suddenly people started to question things they’d never questioned before. They had never read a Bible in English. They had never questioned why they had to pay to save their souls from purgatory. From the moment Luther attached those The Ninety-Five Theses to the Church door in Wittenberg, the questioning began; and over the next couple of centuries, religious dogma took a knock that it couldn’t come back from. But people still desired something larger than themselves. This desire started the building of Nations. And the Nation; once drastically unimportant, now became a sort of spiritual haven for people who need to feel like they ‘belong’ to an exclusive club. Suddenly, humanity had a new abstraction that many of its members were willing to die for. The Nation replaced God.

It is both odd and a magnificent appraisal of the brilliance of our species, to me, that humanity desperately needs to look up to something abstract and beyond our realm of understanding, to cope with trying to understand what is essentially a chaotic, uncaring, and amoral universe. We create order, where order cannot be found in reality.

John Armstrong, writing in “Nations before Nationalism” argues that one influence on the emergence of Nations, was the nostalgia for a power beyond the simple State; the religious power of the past. Nations are of course vastly different, to Nations of the past. People try to cling to the idea of a Nation from what they’d consider a Golden age; the defeat of the Armada. The bravery of Boudica. It just so happens that these events took place on the plot of land we were all born on. We had no direct say or participation in them. Boudica certainly wasn’t fighting for England, she was fighting for a tribe. There has never been a time when the Nation wasn’t dynamic and ever changing. And yet Nationalism tries to grip on to a fleeting static moment. Capitalism means that the Nation State will always be at risk. Two competing concepts; Nation States and Capitalism, fighting for the same ground, will always produce division and resentment. Capitalism relies on open markets, on open borders, on little to no regulation. Nation States rely on tightly controlled borders and regulated markets for the sake of the ‘Native’ population. It is a continuous tug of war. The free movement of labour is a disaster for the Nation State.

The open flow of labour is to Nationalism, what the open flow of ideas and free thought is to Religion. Until very recently, free thought was considered heresy.

Religion is used at a very young age to indoctrinate early. The Palestinian Authority in 1994, reissued copies of a textbooks that were just full of anti-Jewish sentiment. A PA TV show for kids, based on Mickey Mouse, called Farfur, teaches kids hate. Kids are taught to pray until there is:

“world leadership under Islamic leadership”

And until that day comes, they must oppose at all times, the:

“oppressive invading Zionist occupation.”

– At my own secular primary school, we were made to say prayer every day and sing hymns. If we refused, we were sent out of the room. We were never taught to question what was being said, and I certainly didn’t hear the name “Darwin” until I was at least 12. Nations, in their quest to fill the void left by a dying God, also indoctrinate kids at a young age; the pledge of allegiance comes to mind. The celebrating of Columbus Day; a day to honour a violent thug who introduced mass genocide to an entire population. A strong educational framework, is vital for the perpetuation of weak National and Religious myths.

We have Deified our National Flag.
The Prophets of the Deified American National Flag, are Jefferson, Madison, Adams and Washington. They are almost worshiped. Their shortcomings and their obvious hypocrisies are ignored. The imagery of “Washington at Dorchester Heights” by Emanuel Leutze, shows an heroic-like stance of the young Washington, like a new age Saint, to be worshiped by everyone as they pledge allegiance. As a young America grew, in a World where religion was still key to political success, we see a whole host of literature combining religion with the new Republic, as if the new Republic were divinely ordained. The marching song of the Continental army, as it fought the British, happened to be:

Let tyrants shake their iron rods
And slavery clank her falling chains,
We fear them not, we trust in God
New England’s God forever reigns.

– Young Nations, in the 18th Century, needed God. But gradually, the Nation replaced God as the abstraction of choice among men.

To back up the authority for their myths and fairy tales, for their incomplete nonsense, and their, quite simply, invented bullshit, both Nationalism and Religion seem to point to an abstract concept, that is largely, and for the most part un-falsifiable. The problem with anything that is un-falsifiable, is that by definition, it is not testable. So, for something to be unable to be put to the test, and yet still used as a way to ‘bind’ and ‘divide’ humanity, it is dangerous. It deserves no power. A good theory is one that is falsifiable, and still manages to stand up to scrutiny….. like Natural Selection. Saying “there is an invisible monkey sat on my shoulder” is not falsifiable, and so any claims on morality, or to authority, should absolutely be considered ludicrous. Nationalism is similar, in that the concept of that which binds us as a Nation, is built on non-falsifiable abstractions. It is a passion for pedigree that has very little evidence to back it up. No nation is a stock of a single blood line, and it is perhaps more true to say that we are separated far more by economics than we ever are binded by Nationality. I can relate far more to a Pakistani gentleman of lower middle class origin, than I can with a a multi-millionaire member of the Tory cabinet, despite being born in the same Country, or even the same city.

The myths – take the legend of St George and the dragon in England – are quite evidently untrue, but for some reason Nationalists will use the imagery to conjure up passion for the ‘motherland’. Religions do the same. It is pretty obvious to any right thinking person, that given the intense lack of evidence other than a book, Jesus was not born to a virgin, nor did he rise from the dead and walk around for a few days. Sam Harris in ‘The End of Faith’ writes:


We have names for people who have many beliefs for which there is no rational justification. When those beliefs are common, we call them religious; otherwise they are likely to be called “mad”, “psychotic”, or “delusional”.

– I cannot argue with this.

Nationalism and Religion; the EDL and the MAC; the British National Party and Extreme Islam; are all far more similar than they’d like to believe. Both thrive, by presenting anything that doesn’t fit the very narrow spectrum of their exclusive club, as ‘other’ and ‘other’ as ‘bad’. The rhetoric is identical, the targeted victims (be them people with slightly darker skin, or people who wish to marry someone of the same sex) will always be presented as a danger to society, whilst the religious or the Nationalistic will always present themselves as the saviours.

The Nation is the new God.

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The Tory Party: One big PR disaster

October 17, 2011

Every morning, David Cameron must get out of bed, and feel as if he is walking through a storm without an umbrella. And instead of being soaked in water, he’s drowning in collective Cabinet shit. The Tory front bench, is a PR disaster, almost on a daily basis now. The media is totally in control of the image of the Tory Party. This is a sign of great weakness. There is no PR man controlling the public image of the Tory party any more. The days of painting David Cameron as a “Compassionate Conservative” are dead. The ball is now fully in the court of the media.

Even when we leave aside the fact that they have taken a weak economy that no one thought could get much worse, and made it far worse than anyone could have ever sat and imagined, the drivel that comes out of their mouths, and the antics they get up to, is enough to astound even the least interested in politics among us.

On the subject of the economy; growth had been downgraded from Osborne’s Office of getting everything entirely wrong, all the fucking time Budget Responsibility, five times. Three times before the Eurozone crises really started to take hold. The first time, the Tories blamed Labour. Everything was Labour’s fault. Then, in December 2010, when growth was downgraded again, they blamed the snow. Then the Royal Wedding. Then Europe. Surely the inherently racist Tory party can’t be far away from blaming black people?

Today, the Climate Secretary Chris Huhne, (admittedly, a Lib Dem, but that is so similar to Tory now, it really doesn’t need a distinguishing disclaimer) came out of a meeting with the big energy companies in the hope of striking a deal to bring down the cost of energy in the UK, as its rising rapidly out of control. Huhne’s interview with the BBC went something like this:

BBC: How did the meeting go?
Huhne: Very very very well!!
BBC: And what can we expect to happen?
Huhne: Well, if you switch providers all will be fine blah blah out of touch bollocks.
BBC: Did the energy companies concede anything?
Huhne: Well, if you switch providers all will be fine blah blah even more out of touch, skirting the question bollocks.
BBC: So it’s the consumer’s fault?
Huhne: Well, if you switch ….. you see where this is going.

– To sum up, Huhne thinks if we all switch to a cheaper tariff, we’ll all save money. The problem is, the difference between one company and another, is the difference between £1, and £0.99p. We know there are options, but the options are raping our bank accounts collectively. Ofgem reported last week, that the average profit margin for energy companies had risen from £15 per person in June… to……… £125 in September. That is vastly unacceptable. The bosses of these companies continue to blame wholesale prices of oil. Now, if profit margins had stayed the same, despite the rise in the price to the consumer, then they’d have a point. But you cannot increase your profit by such a huge quantity, and then claim it is the fault of wholesale prices. Huhne, is a PR disaster.

It goes without saying, that Theresa May and Kenneth Clarke are PR disasters, after the Tory Party Conference this year. For a quick refresher, May had used her speech to pour unnecessary and dangerous fuel onto the fire of a Nationalism that already burns far too bright in this Country. She was arguing against the Human Rights Act (a document so important, that May’s only argument against it, was an entire lie. She should be sacked for that alone). To do this, she said:

“The illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because – I am not making this up – because he had a pet cat.”

– The problem was, she had made it up. She is the personification of the Daily Mail. When you cannot find a legitimate reason to promote hate and anger; just make it up. When a Minister hasn’t checked their facts, has resorted to UKIP style populist politics to provoke anger and outrage and something that simply isn’t true, to then use the phrase “I’m not making this up” is so indescribably amateurish, one has to wonder how any of these people are in the position of power they currently occupy.
The story itself – the cat loving illegal immigrant – is wrong. Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary and May’s cabinet Tory colleague responded to her speech, by saying:

“I’ve never had a conversation on the subject with Theresa, so I’d have to find out about these strange cases she is throwing out.”
“They are British cases and British judges she is complaining about.
“I’ll have a small bet with her that nobody has ever been refused deportation on the grounds of the ownership of a cat.”

The Judicial Communications Office said this:

“This was a case in which the Home Office conceded that they had mistakenly failed to apply their own policy – applying at that time to that appellant – for dealing with unmarried partners of people settled in the UK”.
“That was the basis for the decision to uphold the original tribunal decision – the cat had nothing to do with the decision.”

– So, May was wrong. She made up the story. She lied. But it gets even better. Chris Huhne (the PR disaster mentioned previously) tried to send a message on Twitter to his friend, saying:

“From someone else fine but I do not want my fingerprints on the story”

– This is in relation, to being exposed as the person pointing our the “i’m not making this up” speech by May was eerily familiar to Nigel Farage’s (leader of Far Right UKIP) speech, in which he said:

“Should not be deported because – and I really am not making this up – because he had a pet cat!”

– Huhne notified a Guardian journalist to the exact, word for word quote “similarities” between the speeches. But accidentally tweeted to all of his subscribers that he didn’t want his fingerprints on this story. So, May is a PR disaster. Clarke is a PR disaster. And Huhne is a double PR disaster. Brilliantly, Nick Clegg waned into the argument by saying, quite beautifully:

“They were both right.”

– N’awww…….what a cock.

Until recently (having declared he wont stand for re-election) Tory MEP Roger Helmer is responsible trying to justify his speeding, by saying:

“No matter how fast you are going, you get people passing you.”

And an email to a 17 year old animals rights activist, with:

“I am not prepared to join the seal campaign, because while I agree that the culling of seals by beating them over the head is not very pleasing and aesthetic, I think it is probably fairly quick and humane…
“I challenge the use of your term “innocent baby seals”, because
(A) Seals are not morally competent, and therefore cannot be innocent or guilty;
(B) I think it is mawkish, sentimental and unhelpful to adopt a “Bambi” attitude to animals, or to seek to anthropomorphise them – I wonder if you would have the same sentimental view of rats or tarantulas? – if not, why not?
(C) In one sense the seals are guilty (without any moral responsibility), for damaging fish stocks and the livelihoods of local fishermen.
“Your sympathy for dumb animals does you credit, but my advice would be that you save your concerns for people rather than animals.”

And on the subject of date rape:

“…the victim surely shares a part of the responsibility, if only for establishing reasonable expectations in her boyfriend’s mind.”

– Roger Helmer, not only is one of the worst human beings I have ever had to displeasure to read about, but also, a massive PR disaster.

Liam Fox’s friendship with lobbyist Adam Werrity is a PR disaster for so many reasons, it’s almost too big a story to try to dissect. Needless to say, using public funds to pay a lobbyist, and to claim thousands of pounds of public money to allow a lobbyist to stay rent free in your flat, is never going to end well. Especially when you’re the Minister in control of the Nation’s defence system. When that same lobbyist, who is almost entirely funded by public money, is able to bypass official channels because he is friends with the Defence Secretary, and arrange meetings with private companies for commercial purposes; the Defence Secretary automatically becomes… not just a PR disaster, but a massive moron of a PR disaster. When that same lobbyist is given over £140,000 by a property investor with ties to Israel and an intelligence firm with links to Sri Lanka, whilst he accompanies the Defence Secretary as an “advisor”, on trips abroad, not only is the Defence Secretary a massive moron of a PR disaster, he is a dangerous PR disaster.

Oliver Letwin, Minister of State for Policy, photographed dumping confidential documents in a bin on St James’ park, a few months after saying no one wants to see a poor family from Sheffield going on holiday abroad. Oliver Letwin, PR disaster.

Caroline Spelman, Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs plans in late 2010 to sell off a third of the 1.85 million acres of British forests to private investors for the sake of Hotel Resorts and Theme parks, only to have the Prime Minister admit he’d never given permission for that, and for the entire thing to be shelved. Where’s the communication?

George Osborne, who seems to keep being on TV insisting that the UK is leading the way out of the financial crises, that his plan will work, and that all will be fine. He says this, whilst the poverty rate increases – more on this point later – whilst unemployment is very very close to hitting the 3 million mark, whilst youth unemployment is at its worst since the 1980s (coincidentally at the time of the previous Tory government), whilst wages are stagnating, whilst output is dropping, whilst homelessness increases, whilst inflation is slowly getting out of control, whilst energy bills are now unworkable, and whilst dropping growth figures show that we are very very close to another recession. George Osborne is a PR disaster.

Philip Hammond, New Secretary of Defence, tells BBC’s Question Time, that allegations of his tax avoidance (he’s a multi-millionaire who said he’d continue to claim £30,000 a year of public money to fund his second home) by Channel 4’s dispatches were:

“Completely unfounded innuendo and unfortunately if you go into public life you have to accept that innuendo’s will be made against you to which you don’t always have the opportunity to reply.”

To which, the follow up question:

“So were the allegations that you’d moved shares into your wife’s name and that you took dividends rather than income, wrong?”

– was answered rather spectacularly by Hammond, with:

“Neither of those facts are incorrect”

– Unfounded innuendo one second, but absolutely true the next. Brilliant. Phillip Hammond, is a PR disaster, whilst also managing to be a smug twat about it.

How weak Cameron is looking. He needs an Alastair Campbell. His one attempt to attract an Alastair Campbell type figure, was Andy Coulson….. a massive PR disaster. They are one PR disaster after another, day after day, idiots running the Country and being exposed as idiots every time they show their contemptuous, nasty little faces.

The problem this represents for those of us on the left, is that the actual issues do not get publicised (perhaps i’m partly responsible for that, given the nature of this blog) enough. The BBC chose to almost entirely ignore 2000 people blocking the bridge the day of the NHS Bill moving to the Lords. The big issues, like the NHS bill, that have grave consequences for all of us that believe in a Nationalised, free health service, are put to one side, because Letwin uses a bin. And so, public discourse focuses almost entirely on the image of the Government, rather than the disastrous and dangerous ideological economic project they are inflicting on Country. Policy gets pushed aside, the underlying nasty nature of Theresa May’s made up cat story, is ignored. This can only work to benefit the Tories. Nobody voted for such a big NHS reform. Nobody voted for a huge hike in tuition fees. The Tories are getting away with shifting vast sums of wealth to very rich individuals and businesses, and the docile English population is too engaged in the fact that Liam Fox has a friend. Perhaps there comes a time when endless PR disasters can be used to benefit an unpopular government and its very undemocratic and ideologically motivated agenda.


It used to be Patriotism, but now “It’s just my opinion” is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

October 8, 2011

Debate is perhaps the most intrinsically key ingredient of social progression that humanity is blessed with. Rationality is a tool that we have evolved beyond that of any other creature on the planet. We should use it wisely and we should be well informed before we jump to conclusions, especially if we have influence upon others.

I am increasingly finding myself developing opinions that put me at odds with a lot of people. On the Iraq war, I followed the Tariq Ali/Noam Chomsky anti-American stance to every murky corner that it lurked. Vast oil conspiracies, dealings with the Bin Laden family, America as an imperial aggressor against opponents that are just pawns. I still hold many of those views, but they become entwined the more complex certain situations seem to become the more scholars and writers you digest. With Iraq, I soon became very pro-war. I am still pro-war. I am certain that had we listened to the hysterical anti-war left for the past fifty years, the World would not be in a better place. Milosovich would have ethnically cleansed Bosnia, Saddam would be torturing and killing his way across the marshlands of southern Iraq whilst the Kurds similarly are systematically abused. The depth of public opinion seems to be focused more on what is popular to believe, than what is actually going on. It is popular to believe that Bush invaded Iraq for oil. It is popular to believe that immigration is an intense problem that destroys livelihoods of “natives”. It is popular to believe we must deal with the Nation’s debt immediately and that the Welfare State is a great evil. The truth is irrelevant to people who hold and perpetuate these opinions.

Sky News, one of the two key news channels, instead of engaging in thoughtful debate and new and provocative ideas, instead chooses to spend its time focusing a camera on Michael Jackson’s doctor. How uneasy this makes me feel. It’s not a fucking reality TV show. The sensationalism of the opening titles; “THE JACKSON TRIAL! ONLY ON SKY NEWS” as if it’s a movie. What a horrible development.

The weak level of debate, and the social cynicism that accompanies it, inevitably seeps into the political sphere and the democratic process, with debate at its core, becomes a sad reflection of the level of debate that can only be described as manically ill-informed populism. This weak, Labour went on the offensive, attacking the Tories because of who the Defence Secretary is friends with. That is essentially the story. It is a scandal that might last a week, if we’re lucky. It is essentially meaningless. It takes the heat off the fact that the official opposition; Labour, has offered no opposition to the dangerous moves the Coalition government has taken over the past 18 months. As the Governor of the Bank of England said last week, this could be the biggest economic crises Britain has ever faced. Our growth projection has been cut again, output has fallen again, unemployment is rising still, and Neoliberalism has hit such a crises that even the middle classes – whom the political class has attempted to win over for the past thirty years – cannot afford to pay their electricity bills any more. Why aren’t Labour fighting this? why are they focusing on why the Defence Secretary hangs around with? The dying level of debate in this country, and across the World, will only get deeper and more depressing, if the House of Lords is democratised. We should have a chamber of experts, to debate the issues between the most qualified and most informed. This serves two purposes; one.. it is quite obvious that humanity, on an individual level, cannot possibly know everything. This goes for politicians. It is counterproductive for progressivism for an MP like Blunkett to have been at the Home Office, Work and Pensions, and Education. Three different specialties cannot be perfected by one career politician. We need experts. Two… the point of this blog; the raising of the level of debate. Democracy is great, if you have all the information. Quite clearly, we don’t. A debate in the Commons on stem cell research is useless, if there are no experts to provide the information we all need. If we are to democratise the House of Lords, then we must still maintain a level of expertise in our political sphere. A Chamber of experts is my proposition.

I’m pretty sure we can’t rely on Labour to run a successful opposition campaign. They have become too suited, and too “centrist” (another word for ‘right winged’).
Where is the fight against referring to anyone with a supreme amount of money as “job creators”? – If anything we’ve learned that demand creates jobs, not the super rich.
Where is the passion in fighting NHS reform? I hear from doctors and the BMA and others in the profession all the time; yet nothing from the official opposition.
Where is the promise to really hit the banks?
I am bored of politicians treading a careful centre ground. It failed. Whilst the Country burns, Labour just like to say “Bad Tories”. Well, it isn’t good enough. The real opposition comes from the masses, who have had to listen and endure politicians across the spectrum, tell us that we must protect the “job creators”, that the “tough decisions needing to be taken” are the ones that affect those without great wealth only.
It is too much.
All they are doing, is applying a very weakly tied bandage to a system that didn’t work in the first place.
And they all do it, because they’re all funded by the very people they are all now protecting.
And then, they all have the fucking nerve to think that we should accept reform of Parliament, be proposed and implemented…. by Parliament.
We shouldn’t trust politicians, or the very wealthy, with a pair of scissors, let alone the entire World.

Don’t vote. It is the best way to cast a vote.

One of my favourite topics to debate is religion and its power over mankind. As you are all aware, I despise organised religion. Now, this doesn’t mean I despise religious individuals. I genuinely do not care what you believe, or where you choose to believe it. I do not submit to the view that England is a Christian nation. Move to England, believe what you like. I simply despise the concept of religion and the hold it has had over humanity for far too long.

Today, a Facebook friend of mine wrote on her wall, that Richard Dawkins is a Fascist and a Cunt. She is a psuedo-intellectual, who absolutely hates being brought up on anything she says. She expects any sort of provocative statement to be overlooked, and if you dare question her about the ill-informed, manically provocative statement, she’ll take a very passive aggressive stance and try to paint you as a bully, for questioning her. These people are everywhere. They are the Fox News brigade. They exist on the Right and the Left. The EDL is very similar. They make very provocative statements, find themselves unable to back it up because, frankly, their statements are usually ill-informed and dangerous, and then just blame the media for picking on them. They perpetuate a declining level of debate. Today, I questioned why Dawkins is a fascist? I asked if she’d read The Selfish Gene, and then read Fascist literature and to point out where the similarities lie. I pointed out that the true fascists belong almost entirely to those claiming to be fighting a religious cause. That the Abrahamic traditions themselves, are based entirely on Fascists principles. To illustrate this point, I will refer, for lack of a better source, to wikipedia entry on Fascism:

Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood.[3] To achieve this, fascists purge forces, ideas, people, and systems deemed to be the cause of decadence and degeneration.

– You could replace the word “fascists” in that description, with “Islamic/Christian/Jewish fundamentalists” and replace “nation” with “religion”, and it’d make the same point, and be absolutely accurate in doing so. The very basis of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, is exclusive, and around 2000 years ‘purging’ any contrary ideas, people, and systems that it simply didn’t like. Now, it is losing the power that it once had, but not for use of trying. My point had at least an attempt at rational thought, lodged firmly into it.
She said I was being a bully and aggressive and refused to actually discuss the point I made. I then pointed out that she’d still not answered my original point, to which she’d said “It’s just my opinion!”.

It used to be Patriotism, but now I’d say “It’s just my opinion” is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

Now, it might just be me. Perhaps i’m the awful one who just doesn’t get it. But I am CERTAIN this is passive aggressive behaviour at its very worst. Putrid and vicious on the surface, but just a way to worm her way out of actually answering my original point. Here is the conversation, after the original argument:
Her:

One of my friends has just unfriended me based on what he read on that thread. So thank you for that. If this is not indicative of how damaging your unprovoked attacks can be I don’t know what is. I now have a tearful man on the phone saying he can’t bear to me on my list because of the unprovoked abuse it puts in his newsfeed and I don’t have sensible answer for him.

I’m really, really disappointed in you. Not just in the way you launched into me, but in the way you are now trying to accuse me of all sorts of things when all I did was express a view. You have me so wrong I don’t even know where to start. You’re way too suspicious. I’m not as complicated as you seem to think. Maybe you have been surrounded by headworkers, and that’s what has given you such a low opinion of people, but I’m not one of them. I speak, then I move on. Nothing more sinister than that. All I have done is be honest about how I feel.

I am baffled as to why you see such nefariousness in my comments. I’m not trying to occupy moral high grounds or anything else, I’m just speaking from the heart as I always do.

I’m not going to lie, I was just letting this all go over my head until Alan got upset. Now I’m going to make my excuses and head off out to cry to myself. I can’t believe your attack has cost ME a fiend. I’m devastated. I think a lot of Alan.

Please just show some respect? Whether you agree or not, whether you think people are idiots or not, it isn’t your place to tell people how to think or to make sarcastic, bombastic remarks to them for not sharing a view you hold.

I have never and will never be personally offensive to you for not agreeing with me. That doesn’t mean my passion is less ardent than yours, it just means I have been surrounded by aggressive, dogmatic people all my life and now most of them are dead I am enjoying the most peaceful existence I never dared ream about. I’m not going to be drawn in to petty rows online, because trust me, nothing you or anyone else here could say could ever come close to making me feel the way people in my ‘previous; life have.

I don’t know what your motivation is for the aggression and personal remarks – and you may say it isn’t intentional, but clearly it is coming across that way to have cost me a dear friend – but please be assured, if the intention is to pull me into a row I don’t want to have, you will never win. I don’t do bad feeling anymore. I’ve had too much of it than I know what to do with. I refuse to fight with people needlessly.

That’s it. That’s my last word. If you wish to believe your own words and think me some kind of warped moral crusader, then so be it. I can’t and won’t tell people how to think. But I’m certainly not going to fall out with anyone on account of a difference of opinion, and I am certainly not going to use my intellect as a weapon the way you have because that is ugly, unnecessary and not part of my arsenal.

This is not the life I live anymore and that extends as far as not allowing myself to have petty ego wars online.

I’m just sad that this has made me lose a certain respect I had for you.

Enjoy your weekend
D

– Now, to me, this starts first with a very passive aggressive paragraph about how I am responsible for the loss of a friend. The guy she refers to, I have never spoken to, I have never seen, I have never encountered in any way. To project this on to me, for simply trying to debate (honestly, I know when I’m being a bit aggressive in the way I argue, and for me, this was very very mild, to the point of me being actually quite half arsed in what I was saying. There was nothing vicious… though obviously, you only have my word on this), is ludicrous. To then tell me she’s “very very disappointed”, as if i’m a 15 year old being spoken to by my mother, is not just passive aggressive, it is condescending and patronising. She then plays the victim card brilliantly. Notice though, still not addressing my original point.

My response:

” If this is not indicative of how damaging your unprovoked attacks can be I don’t know what is. I now have a tearful man on the phone saying he can’t bear to me on my list because of the unprovoked abuse it puts in his newsfeed and I don’t have sensible answer for him.”
– I’m sorry but that is beyond pathetic. You are again taking a very passive aggressive stance.
You cannot sit and claim to be attacked with no provocation, when your initial statement was one of abuse. I simply asked you to quantify your reasoning. Which, you still haven’t done.

I am absolutely sick to death of very very passive aggressive people who publish controversial statements, and then backtrack and refuse to answer for them. The ones who can’t back it up. It is damaging to debate. It is weak minded and it is what leads to dangerous ideas; the idiots who think Bush is responsible for 9/11, the idiots who think Blair should be tried for war crimes, who then get challenged on their bullshit and hide behind “omg, you’re bullying me, it’s just my opinion”. Well it’s too much now. It has to stop because it is pseudo-intellectual bullshit that perpetuates false perceptions.
I genuinely do not care what your opinion of someone like Dawkins is. But if you honestly think you’ve taken a moral high ground, by referring to someone as a cunt and a fascist, and then just blatantly ignoring all arguments to the contrary, AND THEN subtly claiming my points were very EDL like. How is that not an attack on me? I think nationalism is just vicious and vile and insulting as a concept created by humanity, as religion. The people who use EDL tactics are the ones who make outrageous and abusive initial claims, and then refuse to back them up, mainly because they can’t.
This is not what I did. What I did initially was ask you why Dawkins is a Fascist. I asked you to provide me with evidence, to maybe read the Selfish Gene and then read Fascist literature and tell me where the similarities lie. A perfectly reasonable expectation, given the level of abuse and the vicious nature of your original statement. You cannot say irrational and vicious things, and just expect everyone to click “like”.
I refuse to be attacked, with the usual line of attack, which you’ve used, which is simply “I’m so disappointed in you, I thought you were intelligent blah blah …. why aren’t you as great as me?” It is patronising and it is condescending. I will ALWAYS challenge opinions I find to be shockingly irrational, if those opinions are vicious in nature, be it religious, nationalist or any other. There are certainly times I find Dawkins to be overly provocative. But he in no way deserves the title “Fascist”. But if you can substantiate why he’s a Fascist that would be great. I am STILL waiting for your logic.

“I don’t know what your motivation is for the aggression and personal remarks – and you may say it isn’t intentional, but clearly it is coming across that way to have cost me a dear friend – but please be assured, if the intention is to pull me into a row I don’t want to have, you will never win.”
– I am not going to let you blame me for you losing a friend. I actually resent that accusation, and if I were you, I’d tell him to man up, he doesn’t know me, he has never spoken to me, and if he is offended by a debate that absolutely doesn’t involve him, he needs a serious chat with himself. I wont take responsibility, nor apologise for that. And the fact that you’ve tried to pin that on me, is actually an utter disgrace.
It is not aggression. You’re the one who started the entire thing by referring to a man as a cunt and a Fascist. Where I come from, that’s a pretty aggressive line to take. My line is simply; I cannot tolerate stupidity, and I cannot tolerate those who try to worm their way out of a debate (which I started, without being aggressive, I merely asked for your logic) by either trying to paint the other person, as passively aggressive as possible, as some sort of nut job (the anti-war left are great at this tactic, as are the Tories), and then refuse to answer all questions that may compromise their dogmatic bullshit, with “omg it’s just my opinion”. The conversation we had, was basically:
“This man is a fascist and a cunt”
“Explain what you mean….”
“OMG YOU’RE A BULLY, IT’S JUST MY OPINION. YOU’RE LIKE THE EDL.”
What you did, constantly, was say just how much you hate aggression, and then continue to be as passive aggressive as possible. I asked my girlfriend to make sure it wasn’t just me, and she’s in agreement with me. Though she did note that I can come across as a bit intimidating during debates (a flaw I accept – though I still try to present a reasoned argument). My only expectation, is if someone makes a controversial and provocative claim, they should be able to logically back it up, if they can’t, they are simply perpetuating weak minded, useless debate, and that is wrong.

Whether you admit it or not, and whether you want to project a certain image from your past onto me or not, you started this with an aggressive and provocative statement. To claim you hate aggression and provocation is unbelievably hypocritical. My main problem, is the level of debate. The Country seems to be talking about some bloke the Defence Secretary walked through the Defence Department once. And i’m sat here thinking, who gives a fuck? Why is that even important? Why aren’t we all fighting against the destruction of the health service? Likewise, with the anti-atheist thing, what I meant by that is, you did what a lot of liberals do, and I’m starting to despise. They attack people like Dawkins or Hitchens as fascists or dogmatic blah blah, but they absolutely never have a bad word to say about organised religion. As I said in my first post on your page, Dawkins has never written a book that calls for the torture, rape and murder of non-believers. To say Dawkins is inherently fascist, but to ignore the basis of most organised religions; fear and death, is a horribly simplistic liberal technique that is beyond abhorrent. I do not feel me taking this stance is EDL-like. I am an Atheist, an out-spoken Atheist, it is a subject I take great interest in, I studied Theology, I have read the Koran on numerous occassions, I have read the Bible, I have studied Philosophy from Socrates to Sartre. And so I resent being compared to a bunch of racists who just don’t like Islam because people with slightly darker skin are its main followers. If you subtly suggesting I am using EDL tactics, isn’t passive aggressive, I don’t know what is.

“I’m just sad that this has made me lose a certain respect I had for you.”
– Ditto. Especially for accusing me of making you lose a friend. Again, disgusting.

– I don’t think I was overly aggressive or abusive, or intolerant in anything I just said. And so it goes…
Her:

Turn it in, Jamie – you’re just another sad, intolerant militant and everyone that witnessed the way you spoke to me today saw it.

The friend and I have talked it out and we’re fine, stronger than ever thanks to your wild and paranoid accusations, so despite your best efforts you have failed to make a dent in my day.

Go and wiled your quasi-intellect like a weapon over someone who can’t see through your barely concealed hate.

I’m actually laughing now reading your desperate attempts to make me appear to be someone I am clearly not. All you did was exhaust every bit of boring rhetoric in your arsenal. You’re far too arrogant to see your mistakes, because you have genuinely convinced yourself that I’m being ‘passive-aggressive’, which I find hilarious – anyone that knows anything at all about me and the way I operate knows that I have never and will never be that person; if I have a point to make, and I’m not getting through, I’m AGGRESSIVE aggressive.

Of course, you will write this off as whichever adjective you haven’t already overused today but I couldn’t care less. I pity you; you’re the worst kind of extremist. Dishonest, pompous and self-important. You will gradually alienate every person in your life until you are left with a handful of fellow dogmatics and the few of you will spend the rest of your days blowing smoke up each other’s arses. I can’t think of anything sadder. In the meantime, I shall be embracing the people in my life in spite of our differences, and will have a richer, happier life experience as a result.

I only hope that poor girl of yours realises just what a hypocrite you are before she leaves her life behind for you.

Enjoy thinking up warped reasons I have blocked you. I know that you know as well as I do that I simply can’t be bothered to entertain toxic people.

– My personal favourites:
“I have never and will never be personally offensive to you for not agreeing with me. ”

Five minutes later:
” you’re just another sad, intolerant militant”
” I pity you; you’re the worst kind of extremist.”
“I only hope that poor girl of yours realises just what a hypocrite you are before she leaves her life behind for you.”

Brilliant.
The joyful irony of calling me aggressive, and then insisting my girlfriend is making a mistake, and that i’m an intolerant militant and the worst kind of extremist (the WORST kind…. worse than those who fly planes into buildings. I am, according to her, worse than Mohammad Atta. Amazing).

The flaws in her position are vast. She doesn’t elaborate on how i’m being ‘dishonest’ or what it is about me that is ‘extremist’ or why I might be a hypocrite. They are just empty abusive phrases designed for attack. The very thing she is trying to argue against. From her original position that Richard Dawkins is a Fascist cunt, to her ending that I am a militant aggressive extremist dishonest hypocrite, she offers nothing of substance. She is one big logical failure.

But this illustrates my original point. My last message to her, still wanting some form of debate. I still clinged onto the hope that she might present a logical argument. Instead, she chose to get very personal. This is what people tend to do, when they are losing. The EDL do it all the time. Religious nutjobs do it all the time. They get personal or aggressive. They absolutely worm their way around the actual subject of debate and just try to paint you as posing the debate in the ‘wrong’ tone. It is pathetic.

The level of debate in the Country and the World, at the most accessible and popular levels, is weak at best, and viciously ill-informed and dangerous at worst. For the most part, people form opinions through what they see in the most easily accessible parts of the media sphere. If the media support Iraq, the people support Iraq. If the media suggest Blair is a liar, the people believe it must be true. Opinions don’t tend to run too deep, unless you’re aiming at an intellectual level that expands beyond that of the mass media. For example, at the highest levels of debate, we have some great names. Tariq Ali, Christopher Hitchens, Tahereh Saffarzadeh, Chomsky, Krugman among others, are the leaders of the intellectual movement to advance debate and offer unique and exciting ideas. They challenge key perceptions. They always question. They never let a bad argument rest until it is totally destroyed. These are the people the World needs. These are the people we should be learning critical techniques from in order to advance the level of debate to a position that is currently alien to us.

A mad overly liberal calling anyone who disagrees with her a fascist militant dangerous extremist cunt, whilst insisting she’s not aggressive, is absolutely counter productive and should be fought at every opportunity.


Daily Mail – Incomprehensible tirade of bullshit

October 3, 2011

Amanda Knox looked stunned this evening after she dramatically lost her prison appeal against her murder conviction.

– All very well, except, she didn’t dramatically lose, and she was in fact acquitted.
We all know that the Daily Mail repels the concepts of ‘fact’ and ‘honesty’, but this is an astoundingly incomprehensible tirade of bullshit, on levels never seen before.

So what happened?
Well, it seems that ingeniously posted an article by Nick Pisa, giving the wrong verdict, invented quotations, with an entirely fabricated story to back it up, before realising their horrendous mistake, and taking it down. Thankfully a friend of mine saved the article, which can be found here.

Let me treat you to some of the best bits from this beautiful failure:

Prosecutors were delighted with the verdict and said that ‘justice has been done’ although they said on a ‘human factor it was sad two young people would be spending years in jail’.

– Entirely fabricated

Following the verdict Knox and Sollecito were taken out of court escorted by prison guards and into a waiting van which took her back to her cell at Capanne jail near Perugia and him to Terni jail, 60 miles away.

Both will be put on a suicide watch for the next few days as psychological assessments are made on each of them but this is usual practice for long term prisoners.

– Fabricated to the point in which I’m wondering if this is simply an attempt at post-modern art. Fuck the rules! Distort reality! …… yes, that must be it, it couldn’t possibly be that the Daily Mail is the Journalistic equivalent of when you’d write the top line of a story, and then cover it up and ask your friend to write the next line, only to reveal a muddled and incomprehensible tirade of bullshit…… but at least you’d do it knowing it was a bit of a game, rather than a serious piece of journalism, that actually, quite unbelievably, helps to shape public discourse.

Still, it makes a change from their usual route of making sure a docile British public has a continued hatred for anyone with a slightly darker skin complexion.


The Great British Holiday.

October 1, 2011

It is the end of September, and here in England, it is filled with blue sky and sun shine. We felt the hottest September 30th, for over 100 years yesterday. I spent this hot day, at Weston-Super-Mare on the South West coast of England.

Every English man and woman cannot help but have an unbreakable love for the great British holiday. Blackpool, Weston, Camber Sands, Torquay, Skegness, Weymouth, the list goes on, and the truly iconic names that you associate with these holidays; Haven, Butlins, Pontins, make it something of a nostalgia for those of us who lived it as children year on year. They are an entirely different variety of holiday, from the typical hotel and beach get-away on the Costa-del-sol.

Thankfully, I was still a kid before Butlins introduced all its updates, so I remember the retro style. The old redcoats, and the glamorous granny competitions. The nobbly knees and the talent shows. The entertainment teams in the club house performing Grease. Punch and Judy on the beach. I would wake up in the caravan, to the smell of mum cooking bacon and sausage, sit on the patterned velvet sofas for breakfast, loaded with excitement for the day. The beach shops that had cheap multicoloured footballs and long inflatable dingy’s, with their buckets and spades and their flip flops on sale on the racks outside the shop, as you walked around them with an 99-er in your hand, had the unique ability to make a kid think they were at the end of a rainbow.

The club house would put on productions of musicals every night, but one night a week you’d be treated to a magician, or a comedian. Even by the 1990s, the comedians weren’t the comedians that Butlins and Pontin’s were famed for putting up; there was no slightly risky comedian telling subtle blue jokes. No Bernard Manning’s. But it offered something different. Cheesy posters would be up around the camp site a few nights before, advertising some overly tanned slick back grey haired, sparkly golden waist coated singer gracing us with his presence in a few nights. It came around once a year, and you loved it when it did.

It all started in the 1940s, because air travel, and holidaying abroad was the luxury of the super rich. And so an entire industry grew up on the most popular beaches in the UK. They developed an aura of their own, that has never died. The Grand Pier at Weston has stood since 1904. For over 100 years, the Great British Holiday has triumphed.

And we’d have no Bobby Davro or Shane Richie without the Pontin’s blue coats……. think about a World without Bobby Davro and Shane Richie. Hell, isn’t it.

As a kid you’d learn to fall in love with the music from the 2p machines, and the horse racing machine. Put 10p on red. Red wins. Win 20p. Run and tell mum that you’re now incredibly rich. Turn 20p into ten 2p’s. Put 2p’s in 2p machine. Watch 2p’s balance right on the tip. Push them over. You’ve now spent 18p of your 20p’s worth of 2p’s, but you’ve wont 4p back. Score!

By the look of Weston Super Mare yesterday, the Great British Holiday, with all the memories for years past, is still thriving. This is great to see.

A few of my photos from Weston-Super-Mare can be seen here.

Here are my memories from the Great British Holidays of the later 1980s and 1990s.

I believe here, i’m waiting for Punch and Judy to start on Weymouth beach.

My dad and sister. Weymouth.

Me, my mother, and Penny. I’m sure this is Devon. 1987?

This is definitely Devon, because that Sooty machine is still there.

My dad (whom I clearly get my lack of hair now, from), Alf (whom I still have. He’s treasured) and me in my damn cool shades, chilling.

70s dad!

Me and my dad.

Weymouth beach would not be the same, without donkey rides. When I was the age I am in the photo, I thought the donkeys were huge. Yesterday, at Weston, they were tiny. How perspectives change.

Me and my mother, watching Punch and Judy. 1990? Possibly 1989. Why did all women in the 1980s insist on having perms?

Me and my dad. 1986. He still has that horseshoe hair. 25 years later.

Weston-Super-Mare, yesterday. Me and my friend Lucy.